Audio-First Social Platform Airchat Has Successful Relaunch

Airchat is the latest app to take tech leaders in Silicon Valley by storm. Described as a “combination of voice notes and Twitter,” Airchat lets you follow other users and scroll through posts — adding replies, likes and shares — but the twist is the content is generated through audio recordings the app then transcribes. Airchat ranked 27th on the App Store’s social networking chart, even though users must be invited to join. Launched last year by Naval Ravikant, founder of AngelList, and erstwhile Tinder product exec Brian Norgard, Airchat was just relaunched on iOS and Android.

“When you open Airchat, messages automatically start playing, and you quickly cycle through them by swiping up and down,” TechCrunch writes, adding that “if you’re so inclined, you can actually pause the audio and just read text” and “users can also share photos and video.”

But the app is audio-first. Bloomberg describes Ravikant calling it “a house party in my pocket,” saying “I want to be able to pull out this phone and talk to someone interesting and delightful and witty anytime I want.”

Since launching, Airchat has racked up about 45,000 global downloads, according to Sensor Tower, with more than 30,000 downloads occurring this month.

Tech startups have placed bets on voice-based social media before, “but Airchat’s asynchronous, threaded posts make for a pretty different experience than the live chat rooms that briefly flourished on Clubhouse and Twitter Spaces,” per TechCrunch.

Users can delete and repost after an initial recording. Norgard say you can take as many passes as you want with no trace left, which users seem to like.

In fact, they like it so much that Ravikant “had to close off new sign-ups” after being “quickly overloaded with people thirsting for a glimpse — or an audio snippet — of Silicon Valley’s newest fad,” writes Wired, which says Ravikant found the app’s server overwhelmed after giving “a small number of users unlimited invites to share with friends.”

“We’ve had an influx of new users, so we’re turning off the invitation capability for a little while,” Ravikant said.

Wired notes several oddities, including the fact that the voice notes by default play back at 2X speed, and also that some posts were impossible to respond to.

The biggest oddity of all may be that Ravikant, who is among the investors, tells TechCrunch there’s currently no monetization on the platform and he feels no pressure to add it, saying “I couldn’t care less about monetization. We’ll run this thing on a shoestring if we have to.”

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